Monday, September 16, 2013

Do What I Tell You

I think one way to know the maturity of writers is to look at their characters. Or hear them complain about them.

The poor writer never has any problems with his characters. He wants them to race in the Indy 500 Monday, then kick a heroin addiction on Tuesday, then cure cancer on Wednesday, then go on a killing spree on Thursday. His characters are like chess pieces he pushes around the board, except he makes bishops move off diagonals and knights go wherever he wants. There's no structure shaping the characters' actions.

A better writer has internalized the character's mind, habits of thought, temperament, and nature. Saint or criminal, tinker, tailor soldier, spy--the writer knows what the character can do and won't do. This writer has to advance the plot and she's got this lot of characters to do it with. And they're all going of in their own directions.

I guess they have to take the plot where they want to go and the writer just has to roll with it.

I think that is what happened to Larry Correia's novel Warbound.

I love the setup, Jake Sullivan is a bitter ex-con detective in a gritty noir setting. The guy loves solving puzzles. He should be doing detective stuff, but with magic. Like Harry Dresden, but a lot more Phil Marlowe.

But I think Larry Correia couldn't get Jake to cooperate. Instead, he gets caught up in all this geopolitical stuff. International conspiracies and fighting foreign powers leaves no time for divorce cases, stolen jewelry, and missing husbands. There wasn't any of that in Warbound.

And then Jake is supposed to be come kind of warrior scholar. Which is also cool, but that doesn't quite work either.

Then out of nowhere comes the oakie girl who has been an enigma in the first two novels. Nevertheless, at the beginning of Warbound she is a most powerful enigma. Then as her true nature is disclosed, we see other aspects of how the magic system in these novels works.

Larry Correia does a good job of answering story questions he's planted in the first and second Grimnoir novels, but you get the general impression that he generally wanted to zig, and his characters forced him to zag.

The only thing missing from the climax of Warbound was a direct quote from or allusion to Lord Acton's "power tends to corrupt."

Warbound gets 5 stars for several well staged fights and for taking the story where it should go instead of where Mr. Correia may have originally intended it to.

I have also reviewed Hard Magic, the first book of this series. As well as Spellbound, the second book of this series.

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